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Old Wine in a New Bottle? The Role of Confucianism in the Legitimacy Strategy of the Chinese Communist Party
Alexander van der Meer
Chao, Chien Min
Alexander van der Meer
Chinese Communist Party
|Issue Date: ||2014-10-01 13:43:19 (UTC+8)|
Over the last few decades, the Chinese Communist Party’s attitude towards the most profound determinant of the traditional Chinese culture – Confucianism – changed significantly. Not even 40 years ago, Confucius was represented as an anti-revolutionary enemy of the state, while the party tried to root out every sprout of Confucianism amongst the population. Contrarily, nowadays, the party seems to have re-instated Confucius to the position of ‘great Chinese sage’, for which it organizes his annual birthday parties, raises statues for him and praises his contributions to humanity. This leads some observers to the bold conclusion that the party might even be prepared to change its ideological basis from Marxism – which lost its resonance amongst the population anyways – to Confucianism. Others disagree, and argue that the party is just widening its legitimacy basis in a populist way by using all kinds of means, amongst which Confucianism. Thus, how should we assess the party’s dance with the former devil? What is actually the party’s plan with Confucianism? Giving an answer to the latter question is the main purpose of this research.
First of all, as most authors relate this phenomenon to the party’s quest for political legitimacy, a basic theoretical overview will be given, showing possible causality between Confucianism and political legitimacy. Secondly, the most essential historical background will be provided in order to explain why the party was initially so malicious towards Confucianism. Subsequently, based on literature, and based on an analysis of primary sources, it will be argued that the party, after witnessing a popular revival of Confucianism in the 1980s, on the one hand sought consensus with the population by co-opting this revival – a revival which led to national pride, enabling the party to capitalize on its nationalist legacy as unifier of the country – while it on the other hand tried to channel this development into a meticulously constructed form of Confucianism – by selecting some elements and discarding others – that would benefit the party. The latter refers to a fragmented version of Confucianism which supports authoritarian rule, enhances social stability, shows a gentler face of China to the outside world, presents an attractive cultural alternative to Westernization, but - most importantly - doesn’t present an ideological alternative to Marxism. The latter refutes the claim that the CCP is preparing to depart from its current ideological base towards Confucianism.
Concluding, despite the fact that the party previously vigorously blamed Confucianism for having facilitated the subjugation of the population, it now more or less uses Confucianism in a similar manner. The pot seems to have called the kettle black. Therefore, the role of Confucianism in the CCP’s legitimacy strategy is old wine – symbolizing the way in which dynastical China has used a selection of Confucian teachings to enhance its authoritarian rule for two millennia – in a new socialist bottle.
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|Source URI: ||http://thesis.lib.nccu.edu.tw/record/#G1019260221|
|Data Type: ||thesis|
|Appears in Collections:||[亞太研究英語博/碩士學位學程(IDAS/IMAS) ] 學位論文|
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